Ellen G. White Publications
Subject: DIFFERENCES IN DOCTRINAL VIEWS HE ID BY URIAH SMITH AND
JAMES WHITE (KING OF THE NORTH)
Prepared by: Arthur L. White
Inquiry is made concerning conflicting doctrinal views as they may
have been held by Uriah Smith and James White. Really, there were very
few such points. James White and Uriah Smith worked very closely through
the years and I think on essential points they saw eye to eye.
For a review of Smith's views on certain doctrinal points, I would
direct you to "Synopsis of Present Truth," by Elder Uriah Smith, publish-
ed in 188H. This was an outgrowth of a series of lectures given at Bib-
lical Institutes in various parts of the country. There is another work
published, and that is a report of the Biblical Institute held in Oakland
in 1878. James White and Uriah Smith were the two leading teachers in
this institute, and if you give a little study to this volume (The Bibli-
cal Institute ; A Synopsis of Lectures on the Principal Doctrines of
Seventh-day Adventists) you will find what the men were presenting.
Another work from Uriah Smith’s pen which might be of interest to you in
this particular connection is The Sanctuary and the 2300 Days, published
Concerning differences of opinion on doctrinal views, I think
that in the case of James White and Uriah Smith, this occurred primarily
on the question of the king of the north. Before we take notice of this
we should observe that when the foundations of Seventh-day Adventist doc-
trine were laid in the late l8U0's, the great pillars of the temple of
truth stood out very clearly. There was agreement on the essentials as
they had to do with the Sabbath, the second advent, the state of the dead,
and the sanctuary truths. Sister White makes reference to these piLlars
in Counsels to Writers and Editors on pages 30 and 31 under the title of
"The Landmarks Defined."
In subsequent years Bible study and consideration of matters in
conference led to clarifying an understanding of many other points of
minor importance. But still there were points of more obscure prophe-
cies which were not clearly defined. They were not considered vital.
We will find differences of opinion expressed in the Review and Herald
by leading workers on some of these points.
For instance, Uriah Smith, in an editorial in the Review and Herald
of May 13, 1862, makes reference to the prophecy having to do with the
power that shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas and
the glorious holy mountain (See RH May 13, 1862, page 192). Two years
later there was an unsigned editorial in the Review and Herald of January
5, I86I4. We would assume this to be from Uriah Smith. you will read
this on page I48. Here reference is made to Daniel 11:1|5 and it points
to the papacy.
When Elder Uriah Smith undertook a verse by verse exposition of
the books of Revelation and then Daniel, he entered upon a pathway that
none in our ranks had before traveled. The great basic prophecies were
clear and there was a unity of opinion on them. When he came to some
of these points over which there was no well-defined viewpoint aid con-
cerning which the Spirit of Prophecy was silent, Uriah Smith did the best
he could, oftentimes dropping back on William Miller or other commentators.
Sometimes he would walk into George Amadon's office at the Review and
Herald and ask, “George, how would you do this?” Then the two would sit
down and discuss some text together. Uriah Smith was a scholar; he did
good work; but when it comes to some of these minor points, there have
always been differences of opinion among Seventh-day Adventists. &nd we
have endeavored to minimize these differences because they did not have
to do with the pillars and the firm platform.
The time when the conflict between James White’s views and Uriah
Smith's views came before the public was in connection with the great
camp meeting of 1878 and the General Conference Session which was held
in connection with it. Concerning this experience my father, Elder
W. C. White, wrote to Elder L. E. Froom on May 12, 1930. W. C. White
was the third son of James and Ellen White.
"Regarding the views of Elder James White on the king of
the north, I can only give a brief outline of a very interesting
experience. In order to give anything which approaches to a
correct view of this experience, you must take into consideration
that Elder White was an Adventist preacher for many years before
he was a S. D. Adventist, and by study of the literature of the
I8I4I4 movement, you will find that prominent writers took the
position that Rome was the king of the north, and in this undoubt-
edly Elder White was to a considerable extent in agreement.
"Another matter you must consider is this, — Elder White was
not primarily a theologian. He vras a business man, a publisher,
and an administrator of Conference affairs, and did not have time
to give to theological questions that study which he greatly
desired to do.
"From 1872 to 1878 his soul was filled with the burden of
helping S. D. Adventists to understand and accept the necessary
burdens of the broadening work which was laid before them through
revelation. The Battle Creek College was built largely with
borrowed money. During 1872 and 1873 Elders Haskell and Butler
obtained many pledges for the college, but we did not have at that
time such a system as we now have for following up and making
"With the assurance felt by our leading men in these pledges,
the college was largely built with borrowed money. Our people
were in the habit of depositing their money with the Review and
Herald and the Review and Herald lent many thousands to the college
and the sanitarium.
•'During 1677 and 1878 Elder White carried a tremendous bur-
den of soul over the matter of securing payment of the pledges
and clearing the college from debt, and he came up to the General
Conference of 1878 , held in the Buttle Creek fair grounds in a
big pavilion standing very near where Dr. Kellogg's mansion now
stands (on Wood Street — now gone), with the determination to do
everything in his power to help our brethren to get broader views
and to make greater sacrifices.
"During the earlier part of this year or possibly the last
of 1877, there appeared in the Review an article by Elder Uriah
Smith under the title 'Without Excuse. » This you will read with
deep interest because it intimates that the existing war between
Russia and Turkey was probably the beginning of Armageddon. This
might have passed like many other Review editorials without ser-
ious results, but at the beginning of the great camp meeting in
which was combined the annual session of the General conference
and the Michigan Conference and the annual meetings of the Review
and Herald and the sanitarium and the college, with representatives
from all parts of the field, Elder Smith in one of his earliest
discourses presented in a very thrilling way the same thoughts as
were in the editorial.
"To Elder White this was a great shock because if the logic
of Elder Snith's discourse was taken seriously the people would
naturally conclude that Elder White's burden was too late in the
day and entirely out of place.
"The natural result of the full acceptance of Elder Smith's
article and sermon would be for our brethren to say that the end
is at hand. Take an armful of tracts, go out and distribute them,
and then watch for the Son of Man in heaven. The acceptance of
this view would undermine all the plans and all the efforts that
Elder White was making to clear the debt from our institutions,
and to get our people to adopt broader views and make stronger
efforts for the promulgation of the truth.
"In response to this, Elder White walked into the pulpit and
presented the old, old view regarding the king of the north.
"Both Elder Smith and Elder jhite were seriously in error in
presenting their views without counsel, but Elder White was the
most in error because it was his discourse that made it plain to
the people that our leaders were not in agreement. The day fol-
lowing or possibly the second day during the season of prayer in
their tent. Sister White was taken off in vision and shown very
many things which you will find in the published testimony as gi ven
at that date, and among other things she was given a severe reproof
for Elder White for taking a course that would le ad the people to
observe differences of opinion and to cherish lack of confidence.
"During the few months preceding this meeting I had read
Thoughts on Daniel and Thoughts on Revelation by Elder Uriah Smith
I loved the writer; I admired his style; I loved his teaching; and
I was shocked when Elder White presented another view regarding
the king of the north. One day I said to him, 'Father, I have
just read Elder Smith's books and his exposition seems clear to
me. Do you really believe that Rome is the king of the north? 1
His answer was, 'I think Elder Smith is going too fast in his ex-
position, and I thought it was time to present something to check
the current of belief that what is transpiring was the beginning
"In later years men have argued that Elder White and Elder
Wilcox and others holding somewhat similar views were wrong be-
cause Elder White was reproved, but I was never able to find any
evidence that the vision given at the camp meeting in 1873 threw
any light on the doctrinal controversy, but it did through a
flood of light upon the way our brethren should treat one another
in presenting Bible doctrines." — w. C. White Letter to L- E. Froom,
May 12, 1930.
We have one published reference in the writings of Ellen G. White
to this experience although it is not named. If you will turn to Counsels
to Writers and Editors, pages 76, 77? you will find this material under
the side-heading "Differing Views on Minor Points." Please read this
carefully because it brings to view points much more important than the
rightness or wrongness of the views held by men on these minor points.
But now, in the interests of filling out the story, we go back to
the record of 1877 and 1878. Elder James White in the Review and Herald
of November 29, 1877, in an editorial on page 172, wrote a column and a
half under the heading of "Unfulfilled Prophecy." It opens with these
"Fulfilled prophecy may be understood by the Bible student.
He can compare history with prophecy and find a complete fit as
the glove to the hand, it having been made for it. But in ex-
position of unfulfilled prophecy, where the history is not writ-
ten, the student should put forth his propositions with not too
much positiveness, lest he find himself straying in the field of
"There are those who think more of future truth than of
present truth. They see but little light in the path in which
they walk, but think they see great light ahead of them.
"Positions taken upon the Eastern question are based upon
prophecies which have not yet their fulfillment. Here we should
tread lightly, and take positions carefully, lest we be found
removing the landmarks fully estaolished in the advent movement.
It may be said that there is a general agreement upon this sub-
ject, and that all eyes are turned toward the war now in progress
between Turkey and Russia as the fulfillment of that portion of
prophecy which will give great confirmation of faith in the soon
loud cry and close of our message. But what will be the result
of this positiveness in unfulfilled prophecies should things not
come out as very confidently expected, is an anxious question."
— James White in Review and Herald , Nov. 29 , 1877.
It was a year later that the conference was held at which time
there was an open break between James White and Uriah Smith on this ques-
tion. It was at this meeting on Sabbath, Sept. 28, 1878, that James White
spoke for 70 minutes answering the important question, "Where Are We?"
Writing of this in the Review and Herald of October 3j 1878, on page 116,
James White says: "We traced down the several lines of prophecy in Daniel
2, 7, 8, and 11, showing that all the specifications of these proohetic
chains have been fulfilled excepting the crowning event of prophecy, the
coming of the Son of Man."
In this report, he summarizes a portion of his presentation as
"Again, the last three of these four universal empires are
symbolized in the eighth chapter of Daniel by the ram with two
horns. Media and Persia; the goat, Grecia; and the little horn,
Rome. This horn was to become exceeding great, stand up against
the Prince of princes at his first advent, and be broken without
hands at his second advent. We wait the destruction of the man
of sin by the brightness of the coming of the King of kings.
"And there is a line of historic prophecy in chapter eleven,
where the symbols are thrown off, becinning with the kings of Persia,
and reaching down past Grecia and Rome, to the time when that power
•shall come to his end, and none shall help him.' If the feet and
ten toes of the metallic image are Roman, if the beast with ten
horns that was given to the burning flames of the great day be the
Roman beast, if the little horn which stood up against the Prince
of princes be Rome, and if the same field and distance are covered
by these four prophetic chains, then the last power of the elevmth
chapter, which is to 'come to his end and none shall help him,* is
Rome. But if this be Turkey, as some teach, then the toes of the
image of the second chapter are Turkish, the beast with ten horns
of the seventh chapter represents Turkey, and it was Turkey that
stood up against the Prince of princes of the eighth chapter of
Daniel. True, Turkey is bad enough off; but its waning power and
its end is the subject of the prophecy of John and not of Daniel.
"The fulfillment of these lines of prophecy constitutes signs
of the approaching end.
"Christ said to those who were rejecting him, *Ye hypocrites,
ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the
signs of the times?' Matt. 16:3." — James White in Review and Herald,
Oct. 3, 1878.
If you will take the Review and Herald of this date and turn to page
117 you will find that this presentation is: "to be continued." The facts
are, no second article appeared. It was between the publication of the
first article and the time when the second article would be published that
Ellen White was given the vision calling the attention to the hazards
and perils of our leaders standing in a divided position before the
If you are fortunate enough to find a copy of the report of the
Biblical Institute you will observe that while James White and Uriah
Smith led out in these, this particular question was not discussed.
Two documents relating to Uriah Smith are available on request from
the White Estate. One has to do with the authorship of Thoughts on
Daniel and the Revelation, and the other Mrs. White's attitude toward
While we study the difference of viewpoints in some doctrines as
they were held by leaders of the cause, I think it would be very profitable
to study the unity of teaching and the importance of our minimizing the
differences on the minor points which Ellen White never considered as
essential to salvation and concerning which little or no light was given
Ellen G. White Estate
General Conference of 5DA
March 11, 1966.